“Invest in your hair. It is the crown you never take off.”
Most of us want beautiful healthy hair and one of the main causes of damage to the hair is the use of hair dye. However we know that it is not just dye that can damage our hair. It is also the products and heat appliances that can have a negative effect. So how do we keep our hair looking its best without damaging it in other ways?
There are 7 factors that are important to follow if you want healthy hair. Wearing your hair with its natural texture and using gentle products while minimising the amount of heat on your hair is ideal but not always practical. If, like me, you enjoy a nice smooth blow dry or a bouncy blow dry at the salon, then don’t despair you can still keep your hair healthy.
Finding your own way with your hair is key. Below are the 7 key steps to healthy hair based on my own research, talking to others and from my own experience.
1. Wear your hair with its natural texture as much as possible following the below system.
One of the most prominent methods used for styling naturally curly and wavy hair without damage is the Curly Girl Method. Lorraine Massey’s book Curly Girl the Handbook is worth a read if you would like in depth information on it.
In a nutshell the Curly Girl Method is a lifestyle whereby you use sulfate free shampoo, wash and/ or condition with silicone free conditioner (known as ‘no poo’). Styling products are natural without any ‘nasties’ such as alcohols etc and hair is left to dry naturally or with a diffuser on medium heat or a hooded dryer. You also can’t use a hair brush. You only ever comb your hair when your hair is wet and it is covered in conditioner.
I compromise on the method and wear my hair with its natural wave in between my weekly blow dry and this reduces the amount of heat styling I do, which works well for me and keeps any damage at bay.
I am not yet at the point where I want to wear my hair naturally wavy all the time. For many people, the Curly Girl Method is a lifestyle and that, I guess, is the ideal!
2. Cleanse your hair using sulfate free shampoo or silicone free conditioner (co-wash) and condition with silicone free conditioners as much as possible.
WASHING YOUR HAIR
Whenever you cleanse your hair use sulfate free shampoo or cleanse with a light silicone free conditioner such as Kinky-Curly, Knot Today, Natural Leave in / Detangler, 8 oz (236 ml) and only cleanse the scalp and leave the ends alone. One of my current favourites is Shea Moisture Yucca & Baobab Plantain Anti Breakage Streets Ngthening Shampoo 384ml or any Shea Moisture products for that matter. Use these types of products as much as possible. Sulfate free shampoos like this one are much kinder to hair than harsh sulphate ridden shampoos.
IMPORTANT- Before you start on a sulfate and silicone free regime, detox your hair first to rid of any build up on the hair by using a cleansing shampoo. This way you are starting with a ‘clean slate’.
I have heard that a good cleansing shampoo is Tony and Guy Texture Detox Shampoo but I am yet to try it but I have also had good results with Redken Hair Cleansing Cream.
My hair is very porous and the water where I live is extremely ‘hard’, so I regularly use a cleansing or sulphate shampoo – probably once a month or so to bring my hair back to its brightest salt and pepper tones. Everyones hair and lifestyle is different, so if you feel you don’t need to do monthly sulphate shampoos, then that is brilliant. The more natural- the better!!
If you have grey or white hair, you may want to use a silver shampoo instead of a cleansing shampoo or alternate monthly. Silver shampoos work in a similar way to cleansers, in so much as they brighten the hair by removing build up that causes yellowing of the hair from the environment, including your water supply. Silver shampoos are usually a purple colour to counteract any yellow, but I find the results from a cleansing shampoo and a silver shampoo very similar.
Natural cleansers are an option too. A mix of distilled water and apple cider vinegar works well for some people. Leave on the hair for a short time and then rinse it off. Many report a beautiful shine to the hair after doing this but for me, its just not enough.
Most conditioners are packed full of silicones and they cause build up in the hair over time. Choose silicone free conditioners after you co wash or shampoo.
I recommend Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner 384 ml. It leaves hair feeling soft and nourished. Comb the conditioner through with fingers or with a wide- toothed comb, and be gentle when you get the knots out and then rinse out.
3. Keep your hair adequately moisturised by putting a conditioning mask on your hair regularly.
Once a week, leave a conditioner in overnight as a mask. Either use your same conditioner or if you are dealing with damage from old coloured ends, I would recommend using a protein one. I use Trepadora Quinoa Repair available from britishcurlies.co.uk.
4. Nourish and Protect the Hair when Styling
*BELOW IS A GUIDE FOR STYLING YOUR HAIR TO ENHANCE ITS NATURAL TEXTURE*.
Style your hair with its natural texture as much as possible.
Use a LEAVE IN CONDITIONER OR SIMILAR. Again, make sure it is silicone free. I recommend using Shea Moisture Yucca & Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Styling Milk. Just add a pea size amount or adjust depending on your own hair length and thickness.
Emulsify the styling milk into your hands and scrunch it into the ends first. Run over the canopy and underneath at the nape, any of the left over product that is on your hands.
ALCOHOL FREE GELS- Generally speaking, gels on the high street have a lot of drying alcohols in them. Go for gels that are gentle yet strong to hold curls in place while they dry.
Scrunch gel into dripping wet hair and then over the canopy and at the nape. Be gentle, so that you don’t encourage frizz. I use Trepadora Papaya Slip Gel from britishcurlies.co.uk. I also like Kinky-Curly, Original Curling Custard, Natural Styling Gel, 8 oz.
Gently wring out excess water from the hair and scrunch upwards with a cotton t-shirt or microfibre towel like this one DevaCurl DevaTowel .(Using a terry towel can cause hair to frizz. An old t-shirt would also do the job). Be gentle and don’t rough up the cuticle. You could also put your hair in a microfibre turban TowelsRus Spa Days Luxury Hair Turban, White, Absorbent Towel and Lightweight Cotton and let it dry a little.
Don’t touch your hair until it is completely dry. If you do, you will almost definitely end up with frizzy hair. This is hard for me because I am always touching my hair. Because my hair is very thick, I chose to invest in a hooded dryer like this one from amazon BABYLISS Hood Hair Dryer, so that I could gently dry my hair without damaging it, but you could also just let it dry naturally.
I highly recommend a hooded dryer if you have hair that takes ages to dry. It only costs about £75 and it was one of my best buys last year. Using a diffuser might be useful too.
When hair is completely dry, tip your head upside down and scrunch out the crunch of the gel to reveal your unique curls or waves.
BELOW IS A GUIDE FOR STYLING YOUR HAIR SMOOTH WITH HEAT- Protect, Protect, Protect!!
Use concentrated heat on your hair sparingly.
Emulsify the styling milk mentioned above into your hands and comb it through your hair with your fingers in a gentle raking motion. Ensure it is evenly distributed concentrating on the mid lengths and ends. You could also use a wide toothed comb or tangle teezer.
Then put your hair in a microfibre turban and let it dry a little.
PROTECTION: Distribute a protective spray or cream that is silicone free and is as natural as possible throughout the hair, covering every strand lightly. I have used the Shea Moisture Age-Defy and Colour Protect heat shield cream with success. Available from britishcurlies.co.uk if you live in the UK. I believe this is readily available in the US.
BLOW DRY- Once you have done all this, then blow dry your hair. I use the Parlux Powerlight Black Hair Dryer with a nozzle at the end. Investing in a good hairdryer is crucial, so get the best you can afford, to ensure that you don’t damage your hair. A good hair dryer can cut down blow drying by 30 minutes. If you can get away with using your dryer on medium heat this is better as the hot heat could burn your hair if you are not moving the dryer down the hair shaft quickly enough or going over it too many times. If you dry your hair on a hot heat, use extreme caution.
N.B. I would resist using hot heat/irons regularly or at all.
If you follow all these steps, you should be able to wear your hair smooth but still have beautiful and ‘healthy’ hair.
5. Stretch out your blow dries by experimenting with hair up styles.
I only heat style once a week sometimes less often than that. I stretch my blow dries out by alternating with the natural texture styling routine mentioned above and by wearing my hair in different up styles.
6. Eat nourishing food that is as close to nature as possible and drink 2-3 litres of water every day.
Eating well will make you feel better and it will have a positive effect on your hair as will drinking 2-3 litre of water daily. Check out Pinterest for healthy recipe ideas for inspiration and always have a bottle of water by your side and keep sipping all day.
7. Get regular trims
I think the general rule of thumb is to get your hair trimmed every 8-12 weeks. This keeps split ends at bay and stops your hair from snapping at the ends. Obviously if your hair is short you might need to have a trim more often.
Looking after your hair and giving your hair an alternative to heat styling, is always going to help your hair. Having healthy hair doesn’t mean that you always have to wear it naturally.
It’s only hair but it is a symbol of so much more and as the quote says at the beginning, it’s the “crown we never take off”.
How do you keep your hair healthy? Have you had success with the curly girl method or not?
Please note that I have used some affiliate links that I get a small commission for with no additional cost to you. They are all from sources I trust and are at the cheapest prices I could find.